First off, let me say I hate Warner. Before they took the BR side (after an alleged 500 million dollar payout by Sony), Warner were very much in favour of HD-DVD.
Technically, the specs for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are pretty much identical, the codecs used for sound and picture are the same i.e. there should be no difference in picture quality between either formats. The only benefit of BR was it's higher capacity. HD-DVD had more than enough for it purpose though.
Unfortunately, most Blu-Ray disk released to date are production upscaled which basically means that you are not watching a TRUE hi-def picture, but rather an interpretation of what it could look like. In order for a film to be in Hi-Def, it has to be filmed in Hi-Def, and sadly most of the early films released on BR were not filmed in a Hi-Def resolution.
Last time I looked (around end of december'07), 75% of the Blu-Ray filmes released so far were in MPEG2 format which is the same as normal DVD. At the same time, only 10% of HD-DVD was at the same low format.
HD-DVD was a better format for the consumer too. Less encryption and licensing digital rights management meant that you had more control over the media that you have bought. Unfortunately, Blu-Ray's higher encryption and seriously bad licensing crap mean that if you go Blu-Ray, Sony owns you. They have the power to put they like on their disks, including root kit virus's as they had in the past.
One of the reasons why I was hoping HD-DVD would win.
Anyways, Blu-Ray looks to be the format of choice, so I went along with it and purchased this Samsung player.
I have to say, it looks nice asthetically, and plugs in easily on my 42" toshiba LCD, but I wouldn't say it was worth £300. Firstly, the limited collection of BR disks we have, are mostly MPEG2, so it's basically just an upscaled DVD picture and for that, it was no better than my cheap £40 'made in japan' upscaling DVD player. On a true Hi-Def disk, it was a better picture, much sharper and more defined lines, but again, I wouldn't say it was that huge a step from upscaled DVD. It's on a par with my Sky HD setup.
Quite disapointed really, I was expecting to be blown away, but I was left feeling rather cheated to be honest.
1 star for the look of the unit.
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